Photo: The Nashville Predators have invested a lot of assets in European players like prospect Joonas Lyytinen over the years, but the returns have been somewhat sluggish (courtesy of Atte Rissanen/Champions Hockey League via Getty Images)
The Nashville Predators have one of their top prospects playing in the NCAA ranks — though Jimmy Vesey’s ultimate destination has been a source of much conjecture. The other five prospects playing college hockey are less established at this point.
Photo: University of Denver forward and Boston Bruins prospect Danton Heinen was a scoring star in his freshman season, posting 16 goals and 45 points in 40 games in 2014-15 (courtesy of Corey Silvia/Icon Sportswire)
In 2015-16, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) features 45 NHL prospects representing all member schools, with each team having at least two prospects on their respective rosters. North Dakota leads with 12 prospects, followed by Nebraska-Omaha with nine. Read more»
Photo: Nashville Predators 2012 second-rounder Pontus Aberg showed promise in adapting to North American hockey early in the season (courtesy of Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)
The 2014-15 season saw a shift in focus in the Predators’ organization from the Smashville philosophy of the early years to a more wide open skating style. Partly due to necessity, Nashville featured bigger, hard-hitting players playing tight defense and making things difficult on opposition players during its early years. That changed this season as new coach Peter Laviolette emphasized a north-south skating game that fit the talents of scorers like rookie Filip Forsberg and veteran Mike Ribeiro, who had a resurgence in his first year with the Predators.
Photo: Nashville prospect Vladislav Kamenev had just one goal in the KHL playoffs as Metallurg failed to defend its Gagarin Cup title (courtesy of Terry Wilson/CHL Images)
Although the top prospects in the Nashville Predators organization currently skate for AHL affiliate Milwaukee, there are many players competing at the NCAA level or in European leagues this season.
The distance from North American professional hockey is telling in some cases, but there is no lack of quality prospects in the two different developmental venues.
Photo: Nashville’s top prospect Kevin Fiala is scoring nearly a point-per-game in the AHL since arriving in Milwaukee. (courtesy of Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)
Filip Forsberg’s Calder Trophy-caliber campaign has pushed Nashville to the top of the NHL standings, making his the most notable graduation of the season. Add to that the trade that sent Brendan Leipsic to the Leafs, Patrick Cehlin’s return to Sweden, and solid pro seasons for Calle Jarnkrok and Taylor Beck, and the result is a shake-up in Nashville’s Top 20.